Another year, another iteration of Call of Duty, another line of headsets from a respected brand in conjunction with the most popular console video game on the planet. Following suit from previous years dating back to Modern Warfare 3, Turtle Beach and the teams at Activision and Infinity Ward got together to create a new headset with the Call of Duty: Ghosts branding. With three different headsets at different price ranges in total to fit your budget; the Shadow at $99 USD, Spectre at $199 USD, and the Phantom at $299 USD respectively, I dive into the mid-ranged Spectre edition to see if it’s worth your hard earned dollars.
This headset is quite the beauty, with Call of Duty branding above both ear cups.
The first thing I noticed after unboxing the headset, aside from the gorgeous and sturdy box it’s sold in, is how beautiful the headset looked. I’m usually against game branded headsets, specifically because games always die out and are replaced with newer versions quicker than ever before. Nobody wants to be wearing a Modern Warfare 2 headset while playing Ghosts, it just looks unattractive, outdated and tacky. However, Turtle Beach pulled off the impossible, they branded Call of Duty without making it obnoxiously obvious. Besides the Call of Duty branding above the headset speakers on the band, the speaker tags are actually removable. So if you don’t like the sexy, glossy Ghosts image that the headset tags comes with, you can swap them out for something else more to your liking. 4/5 stars for cosmetics.
Now, let’s talk about arguably the most important part of a great gaming headset, and that’s comfort. How do the headset cushions feel? How long can you last before needing to take a break with them off? Are they compatible with gaming glasses? Well, I’ll tackle each of those questions individually, and I have some good news. The headset ear memory foam cushions feel absolutely wonderful on your ears, and the headset itself doesn’t weigh much at all. It doesn’t constrict your head, but it’s placed on quite tightly. I even wore my Gunnar’s while playing and didn’t once feel the need to take my headset off, even after hitting the two hour mark. I wouldn’t say these are more comfortable than the Astro A40′s, but they are definitely high quality and not to be taken as a joke. Need to take a rest? The Spectre’s include a twist-cup design that fit comfortably around the neck, so you can chill without losing them. The Spectre’s showed up the party in the comfort category. 4/5 stars for comfort.
Sound quality is key to gaining a competitive edge. In Call of Duty, the ability to clearly hear footsteps is crucial to getting the drop on your opponent. Knowing where they are before you see them can land you a pretty nice score at the end of a match, and the Spectre’s provide very accurate sounds in this regard. Hear a grenade go off on your six? You’ll be able to tell exactly where it blew up at without even seeing it. The included in-line amp includes features such as adjustable treble and bass controls to add a depth of realism. Fear that your mic is too loud? There’s an option for that as well, with two different mic levels. There’s also even separated game and chat controls, so you can adjust those accordingly to get the perfect sound for you. The 50mm drivers in the Spectre’s provide the utmost perfect noise isolation, which may be my favorite sound feature of this particular headset.
I compared the Spectre’s to my Astro A40′s and found the Spectre’s picked up more sounds in a game like Call of Duty, while sounding better all at the same time. I was blown away by the sound quality. I was not expecting anything to rival the Astro A40′s, as Astro has seemingly dominated for quite some time with competitive players across the world. I found myself getting crisp, clean and precise sounds that I wasn’t experiencing with any other headset while playing Call of Duty before. This is where the Spectre shines and I can’t say they let me down in any sort of situation during my long gaming session with them. 5/5 stars for sound quality.
Pictured above is the included in-line amp, with various control options at your disposal.
This is where I have to get a bit negative. Setting up the Spectre’s requires one too many wires in, my opinion. Call me a noob, but I had to resort to the Quick Start Guide pamphlet to see exactly how to set these things up, and I consider myself quite tech savvy. After finally setting them up, I didn’t want to unplug it in fear of having to put it all back together again. Your breakaway cord attaches to your headset speaker, while you connect an Xbox Live cable from the in-line amp to your controller, while you plug in the breakway cable to your in-line amp, while running another cable for sound to an Xbox audio adapter, which then connects to your Xbox 360. Did you get lost? I hope not. There’s even an extra wire you can add to the in-line amp that connects to your phone, so if your girlfriend calls while you’re gaming you can quickly flip over to a call seamlessly. It’s a nice thought, but I personally didn’t use this feature. 3/5 stars for set up.
The Spectre is compatible with the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Mac and PC. You’ll need the latest 1.50 system software firmware for the PlayStation 4 for the Spectre’s to work. The Xbox One’s compatibility is unknown at this point.
I hate buying cheap headsets that feel so flimsy that you’re afraid to break them by being a bit rough with them. So many flood the market yearly that it’s hard to find a good headset not disguised by terrible build quality. The headset might look a bit plastic and cheap from pictures you see scanning the internet, or even this article, but it’s quite the opposite. Holding the Spectre’s in your hand, you get a nice sense of a finely built product. The headband is soft and stitched on. The boom mic is detachable and extremely flexible. The ear cups are made of high quality memory foam, and all the included wires are nice and thick. Overall, this was the category I was a little worried about, but Turtle Beach came correct and built a stable product. As with anything expensive, I don’t condone you toss these around because you’re having a bad gaming night, so take care of your stuff and all will be well. 5/5 stars for build quality.
Pictured above is the boxing art, and an image displaying the removable speaker tags.
You know the old saying, “you get what you pay for”? The saying holds true to the Spectre’s, if you want a tournament quality headset, you need to pay tournament quality prices. If you are a casual gamer who plays games a few times a week when you’re bored, I don’t expect you to shell out $200 for a headset. But for the hardcore, competitive, tournament style gamers out there, you know that buying quality items dent your wallet. The Spectre weighs in at $199.99 USD, and is rightfully priced. You get a great headset with exceptional sound quality, build quality and looks that make a price point as high as $200 necessary. However, I feel if you were to spend that much on a headset, you should probably spend a tad more go with Astro’s, as I feel they are the lead dog when it comes to console headsets and for general gaming purposes. To those that can’t seem to fork over that much dough for a headset, no worries, as there are plenty of quality headsets at cheaper options. But remember, you get what you pay for! 4/5 stars for pricing.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Overall, the Spectre is an extremely solid headset and will rival the lead dogs on the market. I don’t feel they are the best, as I would rate them lower than the Astro brand for general gaming, but you can’t go wrong with picking up a pair. The beauty of swapping out the speaker tags, the multi-platform feature and the build and sound quality alike are all solid in their own regard. Don’t want to spend $250 on a headset, but still want a tournament quality headset? The Spectre is for you. Aside from the setup hassle, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time using the Spectre’s and plan on continuing to use them when I play Call of Duty: Ghosts. Overall, this headset gets 4/5 stars.
This headset was reviewed while playing Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4. A big thank you to Turtle Beach for providing the product.